The Plaubel Makina 67… One of the very few cameras that every time I hold it “creates” a smile to my face. A unique design, a beautiful and legendary camera and the most compact 6×7 medium format camera you can carry. It’s a rangefinder folded camera with a fast Nikkor 80mm f2.8 lens and a built in light meter. I have talked repeatedly about this camera stating it’s virtues (and flaws) but every time I load a film on the Plaubel it’s a great moment for me.
I have used it with all kinds of films from 50 to 3200 ISO, black and white, color negative and slide film and every single time it delivers !! Lately I have settled to fast films (400 ISO and above) and there’s a good reason for that. Despite the fact that the f2.8 lens means that you can shoot at available light, there’s also the depth of field issue. Being a 6×7 format camera, there’s a much narrower Dof compared to a 35mm camera. Most of the times I shoot the Makina handheld (if I had to carry a tripod then either the Mamiya 645, Fuji 690 or even the Fotoman 612 could do the job, the whole point of the Makina is it’s portability).
(Plaubel Makina 67, Fuji Provia 400X)
So, unless I am shooting portraits or deliberately going for a narrow Dof, shooting a fast film allows me to choose smaller apertures and get pretty much everything on focus. There are a lot or choices in black and white film like the legendary Kodak TRI-X 400, Ilford HP5 and of course Ilford Delta 3200. When shooting color negative the new Kodak Portra 400 is fantastic and there’s also the Portra 800 option (grain on a 6×7 is much less evident than a 35mm camera so I can get away even with a 800 ISO film on the Plaubel). When shooting slide film, there’s one option, the Fuji Provia 400X. A fantastic “fast” slide film (in today’s digital era of 12800 ISO it sounds a little strange to talk about a fast 400 ISO setting !!) that allows me to choose smaller apertures, it’s the best travel film for my needs.
The Nikkor lens produces great images, superb color and tones and a subtle look, it’s nowhere near the razor sharp images of the Mamiya 7 80mm lens, but I really like this “gentle” look of the Plaubel. If I want bitting sharp images, the Fuji GSW690 is the gear to choose (and or course I could not justify the expense of another medium format camera like the Mamiya 7 !!)
The Provia 400X scanned on the Nikon Coolscan 9000 is a joy to look at, but place it on a light box and it’s even better !! Overall a wonderful combo, the Makina/Provia 400 is one of the best travel photography options when shooting film.
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